Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Published: December 23rd, 2008 (St. Martin's Griffin)
Buy the book: Bookdepository
When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.
After reading This Is Not A Test and not really enjoying it (review), I was weary to start another one of Courtney Summer’s novels, even though I had two on my shelves. On a whim, I picked up Cracked Up To Be and I’m glad I did, because this book was loads better than my first Summers book.
Cracked Up To Be tells the gritty story of Parker Fadley, once the most popular girl at school. She has fallen from grace – or rather, she jumped. She didn’t want all that anymore. Nobody knows why she suddenly stopped being a cheerleader and why she started drinking in school. As a reader, you are both in and outside Parker’s head. Inside, because you see things from her point of view, but also outside, because you don’t know what’s going on either. And it turns out that Parker has plenty enough reason to close herself off.
But separating herself from everyone else gets hard when Jake, the New Kid, starts poking his nose in her business. He’s curious about her, and even though she doesn’t want to admit it, she’s curious about the guy who dares to ask questions that make her uncomfortable. What follows is the unraveling of Parker’s last couple of months, and there was no way that anybody would have known.
Starting off with Parker, one of the most unlikable main characters I’ve read about, she is a tough cookie to crack. While she is unlikable, she doesn’t need to be liked – her characterization is perfect as it is and I loved her trying to cope with things by being snappy and short tempered. It fits her. She is a complicated character, which made her realistic and I loved that.
There’s not much I can say about the story itself without spoiling it. I can only say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the characters and the way Summers writes. It has a raw and harsh edge to it, which I love. Cracked Up To Be was everything I want from a contemporary novel and I’m so glad I decided not to give up on Summers after reading her latest.
Recommended for fans of contemporary and raw, realistic stories about teenagers with issues.